Yesterday, standing in the supermarket's "express" line -- where, as usual, some woman up front had waited until the last possible moment to fish the coupons and cash from the bottom of her disorganized pocket book -- I noticed that the similarly-irked fellow ahead of me had a couple of aging tattoos.
As a means of passing time, I asked him if he looked back on the tattoos -- one of a perky girl wearing a sailor's hat, the other of an anchor -- with regret. I asked partly because two of my three kids seem enamored of body art and the tendency leaves me somewhat stymied: Why mess with a perfectly good body?
The man said no, he didn't regret them. He had sneaked into the navy at 16 and got his tattoos in 1949. He conceded that, like a lot of others in his generation, he had been drunk at the time he got them, but he didn't regret them now, even as his skin lost its tautness and the sassy sailor girl lost her sass. He had gone into the navy, learned discipline, came out a pretty skilled boxer and a more disciplined person, decided to go to college, went, fell somewhat short of a Ph.D., became a state representative, bought a farm and raised his kids to feed the animals before they did anything else after school. "All my kids turned out to be good workers," he said without bragging.
Up ahead, the one-woman bottle neck completed her business -- the only business worth worrying about -- and the "express" line began to move. Everyone behind her seemed to have learned the lesson she taught... had their payment methods in hand and turned out to be "good workers" ... which meant everyone benefited.